BREAKING NEWS: No More PARCC, Sort Of

By: Chris Acampora and Kristen Plahn

It’s been decided by the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (try saying that five times fast…) that there will be… drumroll please… NO PARCC.

But while 8 out of 11 commissioners on the BESE voted for the discontinuance of the PARCC test, it’s not completely gone. In deciding whether to stick with MCAS or fully adopt PARCC, the state chose something in the middle: MCAS 2.0. Massachusetts will still be involved in developing PARCC, and PARCC and MCAS 2.0 will share some questions. Some questions on MCAS 2.0 will be specific to our state’s content and standards.

While PARCC was being piloted in the last couple of years, teachers, students and parents across the state raised many complaints about the test — and not just that it was hard. The test had serious flaws, such as printing errors, and a general lack of information about the rules. Many teachers were against it as  “a waste of class time,” inspiring faculty members to wear stickers reading, “MORE LEARNING, LESS TESTING” around HHS last spring. The fact that the test had problems with the scoring system didn’t help the students either, making their testing unfair, and leaving the teachers baffled. Last year’s PARCC test was also in its early stages. Right after HHS students took the English PARCC, it was shortened from three sessions.

The fact that the test was timed was also controversial. Teachers argued that students were not used to timed tests (during MCAS, using extra time was encouraged), and that taking a timed test is a skill that needs to be learned. What is most shocking is that many test-takers found that the PARCC was more tiring than MCAS, even though it was shorter (perhaps because it was timed, students felt stressed out and rushed). Another complaint from teachers was that PARCC was administered in April, too early in the school year, before all of the material on the test could possibly be covered in class.

Hanover students are still slated to take the PARCC this spring. The Freshmen class of 2019 will be the first to use the new MCAS 2.0, scheduled to take the test next year.  It’ll be curious to see what students and teachers think of the new test.

 

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